The meeting, held under the aegis of the minister of information, Mohamed Bangura, was meant to engage the labour congress and other key players on a way forward.
Also in attendance were the minister of trade, Momodu Allieu Pat-Sowe, who addressed the gathering on behalf of government, minister of labour and social security, Dr. Matthew Teambo and the deputy minister of information, Cornelius Deveaux, who gave “an overview of government’s intention to remove the subvention on petroleum product in line with the advice and recommendation from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank”.
The union warned that an increase in the price of petroleum product would see corresponding increment on all goods and services, arguing that they were also worried about the status of the economy, especially the dramatic increase in the foreign exchange rates that had created difficulty for citizens to meet their daily needs.
“We are concerned about the two-pronged approach to the adjustment on electricity charges and extension of goods and services tax on electricity supply, which have devastating effects on the running cost of infant industries, small and medium scale enterprises as well as domestic consumers”, they said.
Junior Secondary School Principal of the Albert Academy, Frederick Coker, cautioned government not to tamper with the fuel subsidy because it was integral not only to the educational sector but also was important for development generally.
“The austerity measures the government has taken is good to save cost but they should also not forget that we have already experienced an increase in electricity tariff as a result of the inclusion of GST into electricity charges, restraining fuel subsidy will lead to an increase in fuel prices and consequently lead to the hike in prices of commodities in the country” he said.
Mr. Coker pointed out concerns about the situation of inflation in the country, taking into consideration the welfare of teachers.
He said for 3 years the education sector was affected by the Ebola epidemic, adding that they were only trying to normalize the actual academic calendar but the removal of fuel subsidy would further threaten the sector.